Understanding Damages- is it worth filing a lawsuit?
Compensatory damages (sometimes called general damages) are monetary damages awarded to an injured or wronged individual or business to put them in the position they would have been had the wrong not occurred. It is important to note that the definition does not include getting money from a defendant to penalize them or provide the plaintiff with an advantageous outcome but simply put to make the injured party whole again. There are opportunities for punitive damages or recovery of attorney’s fees to deter bad behavior by the offending party, but these are relatively rare and generally upon the discretion of the judge overseeing the lawsuit, and have been rarely awarded in any substantial amounts in North Carolina Courts.
Another form of damages that may be present in a breach of contract action are liquidated damages if they were outlined in the subject contract and are a reasonable expectation of damages actually caused by the breach. Punitive damages may be awarded if the court finds that the defendant’s actions resulting in the injury or loss were reckless or malicious. As a form of punitive damages certain statutes, such as under the NC Unfair and Deceptive Practices Act, allow the possible recovery of double or even triple (“treble”) damages, or attorneys’ fees to the winning party, where there was irreprehensible conduct on the part of the defendant. Statutory opportunities for the recovery of attorneys’ fees for a successful plaintiff provide great impetus for an attorney to take on and pursue a matter. It could be helpful to consult with an attorney to discover if there may be an opportunity for statutory punitive damages or the recovery of attorneys’ fees for any claims in a potential matter.